Uganda: Eight Suspects in Otafiire Land Wrangle Released

By Arthur Arnold Wadero

Police have released eight people arrested four days ago following a wrangle between the Internal Affairs minister, Maj Gen Kahinda Otafiire, and Mr Amdan Khan, a businessman, over a nine-acre piece of land in Munyonyo, Kampala.

The suspects, who are workers of Mr Khan, were arrested allegedly by police in company of military personnel.

It is alleged that security rounded up the suspects after they were found at the house on the disputed plot.

Kampala Metropolitan Police deputy spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire said he had been informed by their officers at Katwe Police Station that the suspects had been given bond and they were about to leave the station.

"I have been told that the case file in the matter hasn't been sent back from the Resident State Attorney. As I speak, they are being released. The officers at Katwe Police Station saw it fit to give them bond as they wait for the advice from the prosecutors," Mr Owoyesigyire said yesterday last evening.

The land is close to the Martyrs Shrine in Munyonyo and overlooks Lake Victoria.

Mr Khan claims he bought the land at Shs2,000 from one Afanasic Temaligwe in 1979, and that he has since owned it as a kibanja holder.

On the other hand, Maj Gen Otafiire claims that he is the mailo owner of the land, which he bought in 2011 from Christopher Obey, the jailed former principal accountant in the Ministry of Public Service, who in turn acquired it from one a Geraldine in 1991. Temaligwe has since passed on, and we were unable to access the records at the land registry to establish the actual owner.

The land is reported to have already been resold to another person and construction of the fence is ongoing, but Mr Khan is protesting the development.

Source at the police said the suspects were put on pressure to record additional statements to incriminate Mr Khan before they were given police bond, which they declined to do.

Maj Gen Otafiire yesterday denied participating in any illegal means, but accused Mr Khan of fraud.

"In any case I am a law abiding citizen, if he has a claim let him go to court rather than going to the media like he did," the minister said. "When they steal your land, do you go to the press? You go to court," he added.

He denied claims that he sent soldiers to demolish the structure of Mr Khan.

"I am going to court to get a restraining order to prevent him from interfering with me. I don't believe in beating people," Maj Gen Otafiire said.

Trade relations

Speaking at the commemoration of Heroes Day on June 8, President Museveni described Mailo land tenure as evil and should be dismantled.

Mr Museveni expressed particular disapproval of the Mailo land tenure, one of four land holdings provided under the Constitution, for alleged rampant evictions of Bibanja holders.

The other tenures are customary, leasehold and freehold. Mailo land is only found in Buganda and it originates from British colonial officials measuring land in square miles to reward royalties and local agents.

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